Malaysians see country as seriously corrupt

Angus Reid Global Monitor | 26-Nov-2009 – The vast majority of people in Malaysia say corruption is rampant in the country, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 40 per cent of respondents say corruption is a very serious issue in Malaysia, while 41 per cent say it is a somewhat serious problem.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO)—the biggest party in a coalition of 12 political factions known as the National Front (BN)—has formed the government after every election since the Asian country attained its independence from Britain in 1957.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as prime minister in October 2003, after the retirement of Mahathir Mohamad, who served for more than 22 years. In the March 2004 election, the National Front secured 198 of the 219 seats in the House of Representatives. Abdullah was sworn in as head of government with the biggest majority in three decades.

In the March 2008 ballot, the National Front won 140 seats in the legislature. The coalition’s share of the vote dropped drastically, from 64.4 per cent in 2004, to 50.27 per cent in 2008. According to Human Rights Watch, the most recent election was “grossly unfair” and marred by irregularities.

In September 2008, Abdullah announced his intention to step down in 2009. Najib Razak—who served as deputy prime minister and finance minister—took over as head of government in April.

Earlier this month, the anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) released its annual corruption perception index, showing that Malaysia has dropped from the 48th place to the 56th spot in a ranking of 180 countries.

Datuk Paul Low, TI’s president in Malaysia, praised the Najib administration’s efforts to stem corruption by creating the Anti-Corruption Commission, among other things, but warned that Malaysia’s low score this year “may be attributed to the perception of little progress in combating corruption, and lack of political will in implementing effective anti-corruption measures.”

Polling Data

How serious do you think corruption is in this country?

Very serious40%
Somewhat serious41%
Somewhat not serious12%
Not serious at all1%
Not sure6%

Source: Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,241 Malaysian adults, conducted from Sept. 16 to Oct. 12, 2009. Margin of error is 2.8 per cent.